Almost every week – things arrive on my doorstep. Some are sent via PR and some I order online… not always the greenest way to buy, but it is a tool in this busy mom’s toolbox.I decided to share what comes from PR because they often send great natural eco savvy choices for me to try and when they are good, I want you to know about them.
Sharing things that I order, ties in naturally because another way to for readers & viewers to get insight into how I make the choices for our family.
Be sure to Subscribe to the Pure Natural Diva – PND Living Channel on YouTube – and while you are there add us as a friend too!
Green: More than a Color
Green – is a color, but these days for most people it invokes so much. One little 5 letter word, interpreted many ways.
Personally for many years… being green wasn’t positive in my mind , nor was it anything I endeavored to incorporate into my life. It was something that my mom did. If you asked me what I thought the word green meant, I would have said it’s for other people,, but not me. Those people I might have considered activist, treehugger’s – extremist who were convinced the sky is falling because a kernel of corn dropped on their head. I’ve come a long way.
Now, as the editor of a healthy living eco savvy lifestyle website, suffice it to say my perception has changed – just a little.
- a lifestyle
- a movement
- a trend
Does being green make you:
- An Activist
- An Environmentalist
I asked friends, What Does Green Mean to you?
“Making the best choices I can with the knowledge I have while trying to learn more every day.”
“Chemical free, hormone free, as mother nature and God intended it to be.”
“Being as earth friendly as possible – no chemicals, eating healthy foods”
“Green to me means that you make choices that contribute to the well being of the Earth and environment.”
“Leaving the earth a better place than I found it. Cleaning up after myself like my mama taught me.”
“Thinking about the environmental impact of purchases, research, and saving money by keeping it simple (IE less boxed food=less waste/recycling).”
“Green means everything in it’s purest form. Whether that being food, products or a person.”
“Green means caring about your carbon footprint and doing what you can to reduce your negative impact on Earth.”
“To me green is like the old camp saying, “Leave no trace.” I want to leave my little part of the world a little better and a little cleaner than it was when I arrived. Being green is not just about recycling or using less energy, eating organic foods or walking instead of driving. It’s a state of mind.”
“Green means back to basics – back to our roots – feeding and thriving off natural products, natural foods, baking from scratch instead of processed, using nature instead of artificial, cheaper products and harmful toxins.”
On Facebook and Twitter we heard
Money, Lifestyle, Booger (someone’s son had a cold!), conscious, Sustainable, healthy and Safe for our kids.
One Fan went on to say “I think that people used to associate the word “green” with having to sacrifice something they did not want to or be inconvenienced in some way, but slowly I think more people understand that going green is not near as difficult to incorporate in their life as they originally thought.”
Isn’t it fascinating! One word can bring so many meanings.
So…you may be wondering. What does green mean to me? I think it’s all about action. What do we do with the information we take in on a daily basis. Attempting to live in a mindful and conscious manner.
What Green Commitment Can You Make Today?
Every year we spend hours, wrapping countless gifts in preparation for the holidays. In a few minutes the excitement is over and we’re left with a big bag of trash. Do this project early in the holiday season to avoid the late nights right before the big day.
Last year I made eco-friendly reusable gift bags. You don’t need to be a great seamstress, just the ability to sew a straight-ish line. They are fast and easy.
Quick and easy doesn’t mean, wait until Dec 19th to start sewing, or you’ll wonder what ever made you think this was a good idea.
The good news is, you only have to make them once. Then they are done. This year I only have to pull them out and wrapping will be a breeze!
7-10 yards of lightweight muslin.
Large Spool of matching thread
Iron & Ironing Board
This isn’t an exact science, I approximated my measurements and worked it out. You’re essentially making a pillow case for each gift.
Grab a few of the gifts you need to wrap. Haven’t done your shopping, collect an assortment of toys and books. Look in the birthday gift stash for sample sizes too.
Each bag is made with one piece of muslin, fold over, pin down. Sew a seam along each side.
NOTE – If you are worried about fraying you’ll want to sew all the rough edges with a zig-zag stich before sewing your seems and hem.
Lay out your fabric to determine the “envelope size” you’ll need. Place the gifts on the fabric, allow an inch or two for wiggle room. Add 2″ extra inches for seams on the side and 1 1/2 for the top. Remember you will be using these again, so precision isn’t the goal.
TIP – Cut multiple bags of each size all at one time.
Next, determine how much room you need to allow for the length of your “envelope”. Guesstimate how much fabric it will take to cover your desired gift, then add a few inches. It’s nice to have extra on top for a prettier presentation.
Iron the bag. Fold the top edge over one time, then fold again (for a cleaner finish) and pin.
Sew the top seam.
Iron and your bag is done.
All that’s left to do is insert the gift, label and embellish (if desired).
For the greenest option (you’ll need to select a slightly heavier muslin so it’s not too sheer), insert the gift and tie with raffia.
I wrap the gift with a couple of sheets of tissue paper, and tie with raffia or satin ribbon (which I reuse). The picture shows some ribbon from the past that I’m trying to use up.
What’s nice is the sheerness of the muslin allows the color of the tissue paper to show through. You still have a nice festive look and if you love to pay attention to detail (aka anal like me) you can color coordinate.
Parents everywhere are preparing to send their children back to school. In the US they are expected to spend 18 Billion dollars on back to school, an average of 563.49 per family with school aged children. Buying power like this can be influential. If parents make greener purchases, manufacturer’s will respond.
Some green these choices may be cost a little more, but many will actually save you money! Our children watch everything we do, so making green choices is a teaching opportunity too.
*Be sure to label your water bottles – they are pricier – so you’ll want a chance at getting them back if they get left behind!
School lunches are the second largest source of school waste (first is office paper) – 2.7 Billion juice boxes alone. If every family in the US sent their child with a waste free lunch, we would save 3.5 Billion Pounds of trash from going to our landfills or being incinerated.
The good news is that this is an area where you will save money, on average, almost $250 per year per child. If you work on one thing this back to school, make it your goal to send your child to school with waste free lunches. For more information check out www.wastefreelunches.org. Vow to stop buying prepackaged lunches and individual sized “convenience” packaging. I know it’s a little easier, but the alternative doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You just need a system.
* Prepare lunches the night before, so you aren’t in a rush during the morning.
* Buy reusable beverage containers and fill with water, milk or juice (it really is best to skip the juice).
* Buy healthy snacks in larger packages and use reusable containers to send them in lunches – I keep a stack of containers in the pantry next to the items to be packed so they can be gathered together quickly.
* Wash and prepare fruit and vegetable snacks once for the whole week, then just pull what you need into a container when preparing lunches.
* Use insulated metal containers for leftover pastas, soups or other warm lunches – bonus using leftovers reduces waste saving money and the children get a warm lunch too.
* Use sandwich containers for… uh… oh yeah… Sandwiches. They don’t have to go in plastic wrap!
* Read my posts on plastics so that you understand the numbers and can choose carefully or better yet, avoid entirely. Safest way to use plastics, understanding the plastic numbering system.
As a bonus – lunches can be much healthier when you pack them yourself and avoid prepackaged options – you don’t even want to know all the %*# they put in pre-packaged food!
Note – we only use plastic for dry snacks & sandwiches – not for items that need to be reheated.
If I could do it again I would select stainless steel containers!
* When shopping for paper products look beyond the recycle symbol – Ideally you want a product that contains 100% post consumer waste.
* Avoid Binders and other products made with PVC’s.
* Look for products made with recycled material, scissors, pencils, notebooks – these days it’s all available.
Buy School Supplies from eco friendly companies like:
Treesmart – they make both Plain and colored Pencils with 100% recycled newsprint they also make pens and rulers out of recycled content, shipping is included in their pricing.
Sustainable Group – they make school and office supplies out of 100% post consumer content and have a great corporate ethics – their back to school kit is $39.99 with shipping.
Product review and Giveaway coming soon from both Treesmart & Sustainable Group!
Avoid products that look cool on the surface, but dig a little deeper and the romance ends. Products like Smencils that are made of recycled newspaper, but are scented (scents are largely unregulated and can contain toxins) and the pencils are packaged in plastic tubes creating more waste.
Better Back to School – Clothing and Shoes
Living in Southern California – I think I delayed our inevitable first family visit to the Disneyland Theme Park for as long as possible – Lil’ Diva was 4.5 and Lil’ Dude was 3 . We decided to make our first visit special and stay overnight, allowing us to spend 2 days at the park.
My mom & younger sister were also visiting southern California, making the timing perfect. Mom had never taken us, needless to say, being able to go with 2 of her daughter and her grandchildren was quite a treat for her.
I knew the kids were going to have the time of their life and while we were there – I wanted to find out what green efforts were a going on at this classic California theme Park – if any.
Turns out I was able to uncover some of the parks effort without even visiting their website:
Lil Dude hasn’t quite discovered his inner speed demon – yet – so one of his favorite rides was the Disneyland Railroad Train. We rode it a few times. On one of our rides it stopped to get fuel Imagine my surprise when the conductor informed us that the steam was generated with BioDiesel collected from the park restaurants. No fancy stickers or pre-recorded promotion, just a mention in passing by the conductor. Nice. Can they convert the Race Cars to the same fuel – those are a little stinky!
I noticed recycling receptacles throughout the park . These are great – sadly most people don’t bother to use them or use them incorrectly. Imagine my surprise when I noticed one of the park employees dumpster diving!
Having recycling receptacles (say that 5 times fast) is one thing, but I happened to walk by when “Cast Member” Verola was emptying trash and she did something that astounded me… I caught her fishing out the recyclable bottles out of the trash and walking them across the way to the recyling receptacle. I had to investigate further! It turns out that Disney donates the money raised by the recyling to charity – and Verola was motivated. She proudly informed me that it was for the dogs.
While we visited the park we took advantage of the fruit stalls located near Pirates of the Caribbean. It certainly would have been more economical to pack our own fruit, but in the absence good planning it was nice to have a few healthy options to mesh in between the cotton candy and bbq we hit for dinner.
Disney has also set some strong eco milestones. In the next 2-4 years they plan to cut their emissions by 50%, their electricity use by 10% and lastly they plan to reduce their waste by 50%. Their long term goal is zero emission and waste.
I would love to see them taking a stronger stance on the impact of Disney products, but overall they are making inroads in many areas, and have set some lofty goals. I can’t wait to see how close they get to achieving them and in the meantime – we ended up purchasing season’s passes – so the lil’s will be sure to experience more joy at the happiest place on earth.
For the record – Bamboo underwear are super soft and I ASKED him if he wanted them after a company approached me to work with them!
In the event the video feed isn’t working try clicking HERE to read the story.
Image Courtesy of Don’t Smile Now Photography – Thank You Shani!
Costco introduced a new line of environmentally friendly cleaning products. It is their own Kirkland Brand – and it’s packaged in 70% recycled material.
The Line Includes:
Liquid Laundry Detergent
Automatic Dishwasher Detergent
All Purpose Cleaner
I’ve happily replaced my laundry detergent (method $12 + per 64 load ) with the Kirkland green brand, around $13 for 110 loads. – I like the fragrance, leaves the laundry with a light fresh smell – but not at all over powering.
For all purpose cleaner – I make my own for less than $1 per bottle – but I did buy a bottle to try. I’ll report back once I’ve used it.
The Automatic Dishwasher Detergent works equally well in my dishwasher as the Seventh Generation. The packaging doesn’t the little metal pour spout -which is greener, but I must confess I miss it. It won’t stop me from using this detergent.
Some reviews have said Kirkland Brand is not as green as brand like; Planet and Seventh Generation, but for those of you moving in the green direction it’s a much better alternative than conventional brands, a big step in the right direction by Costco. Not to mention being much kinder to our wallet that other green brands.
It has been almost 2 years since Dude and I made our last child free escape. With two children 16 months apart and no family anywhere nearby Dude and I are on our own.
When my In-Laws planned their most recent visit – it became clear that an escape was in order. An enjoyable trip for Dude requires it to be in range for emergency response and with only 2 days for our escape there was no point in spending it all on the road. Fortunately, living in Los Angeles beautiful spots dot the map to the immediate north and south of us.
Secretly – I was hoping to find a property working on green initiatives and was delighted to find numerous hotels making an effort to be more sustainable. Destination Hotel & Resorts has a green program they call Destination Earth and there are numerous Leed certified properties popping up around the country.
In the end it was a lovely invitation from a Destination Property - Estancia La Jolla Resort and Spa – that caught my attention and with Dude’s approval we were on our way.
Two words describe my first impression of Estancia La Jolla – understated elegance. While the property was quite extensive – it felt intimate and uncrowded. A perfect spot for a romantic getaway.
We drove into a small swarm of Bellhops – we of course had the most charming of the group escort us to our room – let’s call him Ted. Little did we know this little stroll to our room would flavor our entire weekend.
We’ve stayed at a number of lovely hotels - and honestly – I couldn’t tell you the name of a single bellhop. Somehow I think we’ll remember “Ted” for years to come and yes his name has been changed to protect his identity or in this case we don’t want him to get into trouble at work!
As we strolled through the immaculately groomed grounds he pointed us in the direction of all that we would really need to know during our stay – namely the location of bar and spa.
We ended up asking two innocent questions: 1. How far of a walk is it into La Jolla? 2. Can we walk to the Beach from the hotel? More on this later…
Our room had everything we needed – but was on the smaller side. If you plan on visiting the property and like to spend time in your room – you’ll want to upgrade your room selection. What the room lacked in size it made up for in tranquility. Our room was one of the quietest I’ve experienced in a hotel – entering from a courtyard meant no noisy halls.
Once we settled in and unpacked we embarked on our first foray and what would become – Adventure One of our La Jolla trip…. stay tuned!
Uninspired about what to do for your mom this Mother’s Day? Here are two ideas that promise to transcend typical offerings – they are gifts that will keep giving and will truly make a difference in the lives of the recipient.
Instead of sending another box of candy full of calories she’d rather avoid or flowers that will wilt in days, consider a gift that will make an unmeasurable difference in the life of someone on the other side of the world.
I can’t think of a better way to honor your mother than to help another.
Make a difference in the life of a Refugee
The International Rescue Committee has created a program that will allows you to honor your mother and make a real difference in the life of a refugee family.
For example with $24 you can purchase a safe birthing kit for a refugee mother, which includes vital supplies for a safe home delivery in a conflict zone, plus a blanket and clothing for a newborn other gifts are available and pricing start at $18:
- Mosquito nets for a refugee family in Africa – $18
- Pre-natal care for a new mother living in a war zone – $52
- One year’s education for an Afghan girl – $52
- A farming kit, including seeds and tools, to help a family grow food – $60
- Summer school for a newly arrived refugee child in the U.S. – $100
- Job training for a refugee to help her become self-sufficient – $330
Purchase one of these options and the International Rescue Committee(IRC) will send the honored mothers a beautiful, personalized Mother’s Day card in the gift-giver’s name.
The IRC has been helping refugees since 1933 and you can shop with confidence knowing that 90% of all the funds they raise goes directly to fund programs and services.
Finance an Entrepreneur Around the World
If you want to let your mother choose who she wants to help – send her a gift certificate to Kiva.org. I first heard about Kiva on Oprah and what they do is pretty extraordinary. They enable individuals to lend money to entrepreneurs across the globe.
Your mom will be able to browse through profiles of entrepreneurs from around the world, she’ll be able to decide who to fund with her gift certificate, and the best part – when the loan is repaid she’ll be able to fund another entrepreneur.
What I love about Kiva is they give people the tools they need to be able to create a sustainably better life. I’ve made several loans and have had all of them repaid – which is fun because then I can chose another person to fund!
I know for some – it might be a stretch to think about not sending a gift that mom can hold & touch – but this might just be more tangible than most options we would typically consider.
Part 2 – read part one here.
Where were we? Dude and I had just checked into Estancia La Jolla for our first weekend getaway in almost 2 years.
After settling in we made a beeline to the bar – Mustang’s & Burros – for what might have been the best nachos Dude and I have ever eaten! Seriously. The atmosphere couldn’t have been better – we managed to to snag prime seats in front of the gorgeous outdoor fireplace.
Be sure to check out their happy hour specials – they had a cheese platter for $9 on Friday and the other offers looked appealing.
Don’t make your drink “a double” or you’ll find the priciest margarita’s I’ve seen anywhere at $22 each!
At the beginning of this story we’d asked “Ted” how far it was to walk into town? He told us it was about 2 miles. So… after leisurely drinks and stuffed with nachos we decided a walk into town for dinner.
It was a perfect night for a walk – the sun was setting – the conversation easy. Wild nasturtiums were everywhere - for some reason this fascinated me. About an hour into our “2 mile walk” we started noticing that we weren’t even close to town … as a matter of fact we can see “town” on the other side of the bay.
Our relaxing evening stroll to dinner – over 2 hours long. For some reason I found myself humming the Gilligan Island theme song. I was grateful for the practical flats I’d chosen to wear yet wished they were sneakers and secretly wondered if “Ted” had known we were going to order nachos that night and intentionally underestimated the mileage in consideration of my waistline.
After wandering through town looking at restaurants we settled on Vigilucci’s an Italian Restaurant with a large outdoor patio, great atmosphere, live music and a stunning view.
I wish I could say the food was equally impressive – both Dude and I were a little disappointed. I like garlic, but my pasta had enough to keep away more than a few vampires and Dude’s meat had to go back for a little extra time. The restaurant wasn’t the only one struggling. I somehow managed to send a shrimp tail flying across the room - if anyone noticed they didn’t say a word.
We focused on enjoying our wine – which was chosen because the Vineyard and Lil Diva share a name and the winery was local.
We made our way back to the hotel, marveling the entire taxi ride at just how far we had walked. We finished the evening with another glass of wine at Mustangs & Burros before turning in for the night.
I don’t have to tell you how nice it was not to be woken the next morning by children crawling on top of us for the first time in forever!
While I caught a few extra zzzz’s Dude went off to read the paper, and have an early breakfast.
Stay tuned for our hike to the beach… “Ted’s” way.